The annual Converge Conference is rapidly approaching. If you aren’t familiar with MedCity’s Converge Conference, here’s how they describe it on their website:

“This national, executive-level summit gathers leaders from health systems, payers, medical device, pharma and digital health/health IT to join with entrepreneurs, government leaders, investors and other key stakeholders to see the latest innovations and create, through their conversations, truly actionable intelligence on where the innovation opportunities are right now.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 10.17.48 AMThis year’s conference takes place at Philadelphia’s Hyatt at Bellevue, September 1-2. As expected, they have a strong line-up of speakers including Wen Dombrowski, M.D., Medical Director, Care Solutions, North Shore LIJ Health System; Patrick FitzGerald VP, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Kathleen McGroddy Goetz, Ph.D., Vice President, IBM Watson Health; and Barbara A. Walters, D.O., Executive Vice President, Chief Population Health Officer, Trinity Health.

For more information, go to http://events.medcitynews.com/converge/.

It is not unusual to run into a hospital or health system where there is a gap between how the organization’s brand is perceived in its service area and who that organization is today. Old reputations die hard. It is a truth that, as consumers, we are often lazy. Once we think we know something, we lock on to that knowledge or perception, and we look for evidence to reinforce it. This approach helps us to make sense of the world in which we live. So it takes a significant effort to shift those long-held perceptions. That is certainly the case with Lawrence General Hospital in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

After some significant qualitative and quantitative research as part of a brand perception study, we found that many of the perceptions of Lawrence General Hospital were related to people’s feeling about the town of Lawrence, rather than the hospital itself. The town has gone through a significant period of decline (now reversing that trend) and developed a reputation for being unsafe and run down. That negative perception impacted how people perceived Lawrence General Hospital and their willingness to visit the hospital.

InnovationRather than focus on the amazing things happening at the hospital, people were quick to turn to previously held perceptions of the hospital based on what they think they know about the area/town. Therefore, a gap has developed between perception and reality. And the unfortunate truth is that perception is reality when it comes to branding. At the same time, Lawrence General Hospital is transforming the way it delivers care within the region, and is evolving from a hospital to a true system of care. Today, it is more than it ever was; and it is positioning itself to be thrive in the new healthcare environment.

My firm was hired to conduct a brand assessment and develop the ensuing brand strategy and marketing program – which we are calling the brand elevation campaign. I thought I’d share some of the pieces from the campaign with you. This is truly a multi-channel, integrated marketing program featuring digital and traditional elements. It is the result of a terrific partnership between my team at Jennings and the marketing team at Lawrence General Hospital. The messaging, imagery and ad concepts were tested with consumer groups throughout the creative development process – and refined at each step of the process. The creative was also informed by the extensive quantitative consumer research that preceded it.

Employee Posters

As with most campaigns we produce, this one kicked off with a strong internal component. It is vital that the internal audience is on board and well informed about any new marketing initiative; this helps them to be informed brand ambassadors! In this case, the internal brand constituents were involved in the research process and with the roll out of the marketing program. Depicted below are static cling posters that were put up throughout the health system. The internal campaign included posters (clings), table tents in the cafeteria, banners, digital signage and newsletter articles. The materials were sure to create a buzz because they featured real employees of Lawrence General Hospital.

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One of Several Pop-Up Banners within the Hospital

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Examples of Poster Clings seen throughout the Health System.

Print Ads

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Ad Copy (click on image to enlarge):

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Ad Copy (click on image to enlarge):

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Ad Copy (click on image to enlarge):

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Online Video (Surgical Weight Loss Program Focus)

Online video typically plays a significant role in most of the marketing programs we produce. In this case, the video will be shared on the hospital’s website, YouTube, Facebook, and Google+, among others. We are also running online video ads using Facebook, YouTube and several other digital channels/networks. Below are a few of the videos from the campaign; these promote bariatric surgery specifically. Overall, there we nearly 20 videos produced as part of this marketing initiative.

Digital Ads

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This week, my friends at WOW Health Group launched a new online health platform, www.wowhealthgroup.com, with the aim of helping Americans enjoy healthier lives through positive healthcare experiences. The site offers inspiration, medical guidance and success stories, and will ultimately offer a unique directory of healthcare providers who are dedicated to encouraging a positive approach to patient care. Much of this blog post is pulled from WOW’s press release.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 8.45.34 AMIn the WOW press release, my friend Tanya Abreu, Founder of WOW Health and a true visionary in women’s health, introduced the philosophy behind this not so common approach to health. “Health needs to come from embracing good experiences.  Helping people find healthy foods they love and fun ways of working out is often more successful than forcing patients to feel deprived of delicious meals and guilty for their actions if they have high cholesterol, diabetes or weight concern. Americans deserve a positive, encouraging approach to living long and healthy lives.”

An evidence-based approach to health and wellness, WOW Health promotes meaningful conversation over unnecessary medication and the cultivation of happiness over motivation by guilt and threats of disease. This approach, which involves the practice of mindful and optimistic medicine, aims to increase patient adherence while improving the overall patient experience.

According to Abreu, “Physicians who listen to their patients and offer positive, realistic solutions will be the most successful in the future.”

With a tagline “It’s How You Live,” WOW Health Group seeks to redefine health as an everyday experience that feels good, never guilty.

Individuals can visit the new online platform to become members of WOW Health, subscribe to fun and encouraging healthcare news, learn from national WOW DocStars and HealthStars, and to shop products that deliver the WOW factor. Members of the WOW Health family will receive daily tips, a quarterly newsletter with timely information and recommendations on living happily in the WOW moment.

A special collaboration with www.healthywomen.org, one of the nation’s leading independent health information sources for women, allows WOW Health to launch with structured access to millions of online users.

For more information, visit www.wowhealthgroup.com.


VogelBoolOver the last several months I’ve reviewed a number of books dealing with death and dying in the context of our medical system. (Atul Gawande’s, Being Mortal; Rob Moll’s, The Art of Dying – for example.) This marks the final review in that series.

I recently read “Doctor, What If It Were Your Mother? Hope, Faith and Reason at the End of Life.” The book was written by Victor Vogel, MD, a board-certified medical oncologist caring for women with breast cancer, with 30 years of clinical research in oncology. He has served as the National Vice President for Research for the American Cancer Society, and was Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Interestingly, and this has bearing on the book, Dr. Vogel is also an ordained Presbyterian elder and a Pittsburgh Theological Seminary board member.

In the introduction to his book, Dr. Vogel laments the fact that many dying patients “have been conditioned to believe that hope only comes through the use of therapeutic interventions (such as surgery, medical devices, medication, and procedures) and not from spiritual reflection and wrestling with life’s most deep and profound questions.” I would add that this belief resides in families, not just patients. It is often the families who are pushing for interventions. (p. XII) This perspective (intervention versus spiritual reflection) sets the tone for rest of the text.

Later on in his text, Dr. Vogel points out that we are a nation of people who demand action. Doing nothing is not tolerated. “There has to be something we can do.” We want action. We want interventions. We want heroics. We want to fight death to the bitter end. It’s not just the clinicians who want to save the day; it is often the patients and the family members who have to believe there is a solution out there. And there appears to be an overall lack of communication about what is best for the patient’s quality of life.

Dr. Vogel’s book seems well suited for people of faith who are grappling with issues of death and dying. He gives examples and instructs his readers on ways to address important spiritual needs of dying patients through utilizing better doctor/patient/family communication. Through his text, he strives to empower patients to make informed and rational decisions that help to ensure they receive the most compassionate and effective care, and encourages them to ask for palliative care when appropriate.

Dr. Vogel also raises in the mind of his reader a question about when therapeutic interventions have run their course. The most important element seems to be an open dialogue between the physician and the patient. How best can we improve the quality of life of this individual during their final months, weeks or days?

I am happy to say that his concludes my series of book reviews on death and dying. I’m ready to move on to other interests within healthcare and healthcare marketing!

The 2015 #HIT99 List

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 8.53.08 AMFor several years there has been an annual #HIT100 list, recognizing the top contributors to the HIT social media community. This year, with the demise of the #HIT100, we witnessed the birth of the #HIT99 list. The #HIT99 was launched as a way for people to recognize their peers, friends, thought leaders and colleagues who have been contributing to the #HealthIT, #HITsm, #hcsm, #HITchicks, #hcldr, and other related communities through their tweets, blogs, articles, conference presentations, etc.

Nominations for the #HIT99 were opened on July 6th, 2015. In total, 319 unique Twitter accounts were nominated. A total of 1,650 valid nominations were made.

What is the value of a list like this? For me, the list is a resource. It is not perfect and it is not complete. But many of the people included are amazing resources and well worth checking out on Twitter. It was exciting to see how many of these people are friends, fellow #HCLDR community members, or colleagues for whom I have a great deal of respect (@Colin_Hung, @MandiBPro, @EricTopol. @ReginaHolliday, @ePatientDave, @giasison, @nxtstop1, @JBBC, @HealthyThinker, @JoeBabaian, @MindofAndre, @LisaGualtieri, @Jim_Rawson_MD, @ThePatientsSide and more). These are amazing people and great resources. So, from that perspective, I definitely see value in this list – it is a great way to get to know the influencers in this space. It was also nice, during the nomination process, to give shout outs to the people who contribute great content and stimulate important conversations about healthcare social media, information technology, healthcare innovation and digital health.

The 2015 #HIT99

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Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 3.59.41 PMFor years I have been writing blog posts and articles, and speaking at conferences, about the need for healthcare marketers to turn their attention to online communities – what I call communities of shared interest. These are niche communities that bring together people with commonalities. The more focused, the better.

Today I am celebrating that SHSMD is launching MySHSMD – an online member community. Within the new platform, members will be able to organize themselves and focus their discussions within specialized forums:

  • Marketing
  • Physician Relations
  • Public Relations & Communications
  • Strategic Planning

Here are the reasons SHSMD provided for starting up this new online community:

  • To leverage the collective knowledge and expertise of SHSMD’s 4,000+ members.
  • To help members quickly and easily share solutions and solve issues with each other.
  • To support meaningful member-to-member connections year round.

This is the perfect use of an online community. SHSMD gets it! They will be sending out an email to members on August 6th with access information. So, if you belong to SHSMD, stay tuned. This is an exciting development.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 10.00.09 AM(Yes, I’m reviewing another book about death and dying. This is an important issue with which healthcare professionals need to come to terms. Our system of care is not designed to help people die well. This impacts quality of life and the cost of care.)

My mother-in-law passed away several months ago and my wife has been making regular trips to Williamsburg to help get the estate in order. My mother-in-law, Shirley, was an eternal student and a retired educator. She loved to immerse herself in her studies, and had a huge collection of books. When my wife, Scotti, was going through Shirley’s books, she found “The Art of Dying: Living Fully Into The Life To Come.” Shirley knew that she was dying for some time, and approached death as she did all subjects – she read everything she could on the subject! As someone who had spent her life studying religion and spirituality, she had a special interest in Christian views on death and dying.

Scotti knows that I’ve been doing a lot of reading about end of life and the role of healthcare (slow medicine versus rescue medicine, etc). So, once she finished reading the book, she passed it on to me. Last week, while on an airplane flying up and down the east coast, I read The Art of Dying.

The author is intrigued with the Christian tradition of a “good death.” He describes how Christians have grown removed from this notion of a good death, just as they have become unfamiliar with death itself. Death is not integrated into our lives in North America, as it once was. With the development of hospitals and retirement communities, we are in many ways separated from the dying. And, many of us are separated by great distances from our aging family members.

“For most of the last century, death has moved steadily away from view. Over the course of the first half of the twentieth century, the site of death moved from the home to the hospital.In 1908, 14 percent of all deaths occurred in an institutional setting, either a hospital, nursing home or other facility. Just six years later the figure jumped to 25 percent. By the end of the century it was nearly 80 percent.” (p. 16)

One of the interesting point the author makes is that, for the first time in history, many of us can anticipate the approximate date of our demise. This is because of the change from a quick death from infectious disease to more gradual dying. Today, most of us do not die from sudden death. Rather, death is something we see coming. One would think that this advanced notice would give us the time needed to prepare for meeting our maker, but that is not typically what happens. In our culture, we spend that time trying to fend off death, seeking medical interventions (often in response to family members who aren’t ready to let go), and looking for a silver bullet. And the truth is, our medical system is designed to save lives rather than help people have a good death.

The Art of Dying won’t be an uplifting read. You probably gathered that from the title. But the author, Rob Moll, does touch on some interesting and important points about the ways in which we deal with dying in America. Our medical establishment and culture of medicine are certainly part of the story. We’re all going to deal with these issues sooner or later. This book may give you a new perspective.


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